Serbia sack Djukic and appoint Antic as coach

August 20, 2008

BELGRADE, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Miroslav Djukic was sacked by Serbia on Wednesday, with former Barcelona and Real Madrid coach Radomir Antic named as his replacement.

'Miroslav Djukic's contract has been terminated as of today and we have appointed Radomir Antic as the national team coach for a two-year period,' Serbian Football Association (FSS) president Tomislav Karadzic told a news conference.

'Antic's contract will be renewed automatically if we qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and we are very optimistic about our chances. Results are the only barometer and we were not happy with Djukic's results.'

Djukic, who took over in January after Serbia failed to qualify for Euro 2008, failed to win any of his eight matches at the helm and was at loggerheads with Karadzic over a club v country row.

The coach drew two and lost three friendlies with the senior team and was also in charge of the side that bowed out of the Beijing Olympic tournament in the group stage.

The split was almost inevitable after Djukic threatened to walk out of the Olympics when Karadzic told him to release two Partizan Belgrade players for their Champions League qualifier with Turkey's Fenerbahce.

Djukic was able to hold on to midfielders Zoran Tosic and Ljubomir Fejsa in Beijing but not his job after Olympic defeats by Argentina and Ivory Coast and a draw with Australia.

Antic was in charge of Real in 1992 and won the Spanish league and cup double with city rivals Atletico Madrid in 1996.

He was at the helm at Barcelona in 2003 but has not coached since leaving Spanish club Celta Vigo in 2004.

Karadzic said he hoped Antic would bring a 'change in attitude' among the Serbia squad.

'We are completely convinced we will get our money's worth with Antic and are equally sure he will be able to bring the best out of the players,' said the FSS president.

'They need to be more committed to the objective of getting back to winning ways and giving our fans the joy they so richly deserve for their support.'

Serbia start their World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Faroe Islands on Sept. 6 before visiting France four days later. Romania, Austria and Lithuania are the other teams in Group Seven.